Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is prevalent in children and is associated with significant comorbidity.
To describe paediatric sleep physician and diagnostic testing resources for SDB in Canadian children.
A 38-item, Internet-based survey was sent to the 32 members of the Canadian Pediatric Sleep Network (CPSN). A shorter telephone survey was administered to all 182 non-CPSN sleep laboratories across Canada.
Responses were obtained from 29 of 31 (91%) CPSN members and 121 of 182 (66%) non-CPSN sleep facilities. Sixty-seven of 121 (55%) of the responding non-CPSN facilities reported that they see children <18 years of age. Thirty-six of 121 (30%) and 23 of 121 (19%), respectively, see children ≤12 years of age or ≤8 years of age. Marked disparities across provinces/territories were observed, with no practitioners or polysomnography in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Alberta has the smallest ratio of children to practitioners (approximately 167,000 to 1) and Ontario has the smallest ratio of children to polysomnograms performed per year (approximately 487,000 to 1). Reported wait times for polysomnography ranged from <1 month, to 1.5 to 2 years. In paediatric tertiary care centres, the number of polysomnograms performed per year ranged from 55 to 700 (median 480) and in other laboratories the range was 400 to 4000 (median 1100).
The present study demonstrates a significant lack of resources and services for paediatric SDB care across Canada, with pronounced geographical disparities. Even if only affected children were tested with polysomnography, the authors estimate there are 7.5 times more children with SDB than current testing capacity.